Global and Virgin Radio fuel 24 fanmania

The 'Fan Bunker' countdown marathon, designed to reignite excitement around the series, could break a Guinness world record tonight.

With 24 off the air since May 2007, Global wanted to do something that would extend beyond the traditional media outreach and re-energize the series’ loyal fan base for its return this Sunday. So it’s giving them the chance to make history.

Nine 24 mega-fans selected by Virgin Radio and Global Television took their seats in ‘The Fan Bunker’ this week at Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall in an attempt to set a new Guinness world record by consecutively watching seasons one through six – a total running time of 106 hours and 41 minutes.

During the marathon, contestants are not allowed to avert their eyes from the television screen and are allowed only a 15-minute break every three hours. In accordance with Guinness guidelines, they’re allowed no energy pills, drinks or aids of any kind, aside from coffee. If one or more of the finalists holds on until after 6:33 pm ET this evening, the Guinness record will be officially broken and the winner will walk away with the grand prize of $24,000. (The previous record holder for Continuous TV Watching was clocked in at 69 hours and 48 minutes.)

‘The level of determination from these fans is amazing,’ Jamie Schouela, VP, marketing strategy, Global Television, tells MiC. ‘As we approach the 48-hour mark, of our original nine contestants five remain. That’s an impressive feat.’

The competition kicked off on Wednesday with a mission briefing by ET Canada‘s Rick Campanelli. The contestants, who range in age from 20 to 47 and include a married mother of two and three students as well as National Postreporter and Reality Obsessed host Murtz Jaffer, were recruited by Virgin, which provided promotional support throughout the campaign with live hits, promo spots and a contest website. Fans wanting to enter the contest were asked to answer 24 trivia questions about the series during the week of Dec. 22 on, and those with 100% accuracy were then randomly selected to participate in the contest.

Sponsors like Sharp and La-Z-boy are awarding secondary prizing as certain contest milestones are attained. At 24 hours, successful contestants win their La-Z-boy Recliner; at 36 hours, a Sharp Blu-Ray DVD Player; and at 48 hours, a 19′ Sharp Aquos television.

With media planning and execution handled in-house at Global, the contest has been supplemented with a four-week on-air campaign launched in mid-December during the season finale of Survivor: Gabon. Other media buys also include radio, tactical print, outdoor, IPG and online in Toronto.

While The Fan Bunker contest targeted Toronto, on-air and radio partnerships have garnered significant media interst, with coverage across Metro, Global News, ET Canada, National Post, Toronto Star online,, and, as well as various 24 fan sites.

24 Season 7 begins this Sunday with a two-night, four-hour premiere at 8pm ET on Global and concludes on Monday at 8pm ET, with subsequent episodes airing Mondays at 9pm ET, starting Jan. 19.